Reflecting on the Loss of a Pet

PipwithTeddyThe past month has been a tremendous struggle. My husband’s gentle grandma passed away after a two-week battle in the hospital, followed shortly after by the passing of his sweet aunt. Meanwhile, my thirteen-year-old cat, Pip, who has suffered from colitis since he was a kitten, began to wince when I touched him. I had really hoped someone would tell me what to do. That some voice (perhaps God) would assure me that I couldn’t make the wrong decision, that everything was playing out as it was supposed to. My ears never heard words, but there were miracles and messages happening all around me.

When God Speaks

When God speaks, he/she doesn’t do so in the traditional sense – at least not in my experience. On one occasion, after requesting guidance on my life’s purpose, I sensed words in my head telling me I was a “conduit of information.” But, there wasn’t a voice attached to the words. They were simply dangling in the quiet space that opened up as I meditated. I believe God has the ability to speak in whatever way is most appropriate to the listener, and for me miraculous occurrences seem to carry the most weight.

Guidance is Always Available

I was definitely hoping for a miracle with regards to what to do about Pip. However, professional guidance was also welcome. That is why at the end of May I scheduled a phone call with a trusted animal communicator (Brenda Cunliffe). During the call she compassionately explained that while Pip wasn’t actively asking to be put to rest, he was in great pain. As I suspected, his back, which had become so brittle and frail under my touch, was aching with arthritis. And, the daily “accidents” he experienced were not something he could control. She went on to describe in vivid detail the backyard scene that Pip most enjoyed through the sliding glass doors of our living room. From that vantage point, he had selected a beautiful tree that split into two at the base. He felt that would be a nice final resting spot when the time came. I listened breathless to her description thinking, “I have no idea what tree she is talking about, but if such a tree exists, I can make that final wish happen.” The idea of being able to do that for him gave me great comfort. Later that day, I ventured into the woods making a straight path from our living room, through the grass, across the garden, and finally pushing through a row of pine trees, there a few feet in was the tree that Pip had described to Brenda.

Timing is Everything

The resting place was ready, but the timing was not quite right. Pip was still having more good days than bad and I was not capable of giving up his daily snuggles. Since I had been having such a rough couple of weeks, I returned to reading “My Grandfather’s Blessings” by Rachel Naomi Remen. Her other book, “Kitchen Table Wisdom” is one of my favorites, and I had been reading her second book, at an exceptionally slow pace, savoring it one beautiful story at a time.

On the Monday before last, I awoke before my alarm with Pip cuddling by my side. I had been dealing with tremendous fatigue, so waking up by my own fruition felt great. I told myself it was going to be a productive, energetic day and I opened my book to read one chapter before heading to my home office. I was only a few paragraphs into a story when I heard Pip in the bathroom. Before I knew it, I was cleaning up diarrhea and vomit. I was immediately exhausted by the sudden derailment of the day. I flopped onto my bed and began to cry uncontrollably. My other little cat, Gladys whimpered and jumped up on the bed, gently rubbing her paw over my eyes. Later, when I was more composed, I continued to read the chapter, only to lose my composure again as I read the line, “Befriending life often requires accepting and experiencing loss.

Accepting Loss

Throughout the course of Pip’s life, and especially over the final two years of his decline, I had become hyper-vigilant. I slept with one ear in the ready seeking to hear his cries of distress. I had developed a “sick sense,” by which I knew when he was getting ill. Even in the dead of night, I would often grab him and hurry to the bathroom where I could rub his belly as he became physically ill. Sometimes I caught it in time, other times I would have to change all the sheets in the wee hours of the morning. It was never pleasant for any of us. Our little family was consumed with the sickness. For whatever reason, when I awoke on Friday morning (June 20th) I had finally reached a place of acceptance. I knew Pip was not getting better – not with the dozens of foods, supplements, and healing treatments I had tried. Any action was just a temporary relief, and temporary was no longer acceptable.

A Final Push

IfLoveCouldHaveSavedYou300
If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. From RachelRemen.com

Although the acceptance felt clear in my mind, my heart still wavered. I reached out to several vets and learned that a local service could come to our home to euthanize Pip. But, as soon as I realized we could set those wheels in motion I went into lock down. I couldn’t move forward. I was planning on attending an educational event with a friend who was visiting, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave the house.* Instead, I stayed home, and with Pip on the bed next to me, I surfed mindlessly on the computer. As I did, I was stunned to read a Facebook post from Rachel Naomi Remen, one that she had waited 6 months to post. In it, “If Love Could Have Saved You,” she discussed the passing of her beloved, chronically ill pet. The synchronicity of the post and the gentleness of the message made it clear to me what the most loving decision had to be.

*When I finally attempted to venture from the house I learned there was a nail in my tire which would have prevented me from attending that weekend event even if I tried.

For more on this difficult decision, see the continuation of this post, “Messages and Miracles

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